“Beyond the Sound of Words”: Harmony and Polyphony in Women in Love

Susan Reid

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


“‘Beyond the Sound of Words’: Harmony and Polyphony in Women in Love” maps this novel’s oppositional modes of agitation and stillness against two sound worlds represented by Gerald Crich’s Wagnerian concept of harmony and Birkin’s more ethical polyphony. Gerald’s characterisation as doomed victim of an industrial society in love with war and death is compared with Arnold Bax’s use of Wagner’s “sick Tristan” motif in Tintagel. The composers Philip Heseltine and Cecil Gray rekindled Lawrence’s interest in folk songs, which feature in the novel as a counterbalance to the putative stature of Wagnerian opera. This interplay of the local and the universal in music resonates with Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite (1918), which also resembles Birkin’s “star equilibrium” as a music of the spheres.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationD.H. Lawrence, Music and Modernism
Subtitle of host publicationPart of the Palgrave Studies in Music and Literature book series (PASTMULI)
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Pages 119-145
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-04999-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-04998-0
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • D.H. Lawrence
  • musico-literary modernism
  • Lawrence studies
  • music studies
  • modernist aesthetics
  • musical influences
  • literary modernism
  • Wagner E.M Forster
  • music
  • Lawrence
  • Ezra Pound
  • Virginia Woolf


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